I introduced you to Libby and Ethan last week. And, didn’t you love Libby’s insights? This week, with Libby’s permission, I am sharing a few of her posts from her website, Childless Mormons. If you want to read ahead, you can visit her site and enjoy every last morsel. Or, you can wait for the installments over the next few days. I hope that you find inspiration, insight, understanding, and perhaps a new perspective on infertility and choosing “child-free” living.
Libby & Ethan S.
West Lafayette, Indiana
Making the Decision
by Libby S.
(originally posted here on July 7, 2010)
My husband and I have chosen to be childless in that we consciously decided to #1 stop fertility treatments and #2 close our adoption file. Did I try to have children? Yes–for nine long years. Am I trying to have children now? No, not at all. This decision may seem irrational or ironic to those who have not experienced infertility for a long amount of time. When deciding whether or not to choose childlessness, my husband and I spoke with a trusted advisor, who simply couldn’t understand why this is something we needed to decide. Why didn’t we exhaust all our resources first? Why didn’t we wait until I was out of my “fertile years”? (Did I ever have fertile years?) I don’t know why exactly I needed to make this decision; I just knew I needed to make it. I felt that my life had been on hold for too long, and it was taking its toll on me. Even though I was continuing my education, working part-time, and serving actively in the church, balance was actually never possible as long as I was trying to become a mother. Hoping to become pregnant at any moment, or hoping for a birthmom contact, constantly occupied my mind and heart. It’s something I thought about daily. I was always looking forward to when I would have children, never finding complete satisfaction in my present condition. My personal growth was being stymied as long as I was trying to become a mother.
As I researched more about moving from infertility to childlessness, I learned that I wasn’t alone in my need to make a firm decision to accept a childless life. Caroline from More to Life shares the following as part of her coping strategies: “My advice would be that, unless you make an active decision to close the present chapter of your life, it will be very difficult to mourn the bereavement of infertility and move on. Ridiculous though it seems, this may mean actively taking steps against becoming pregnant and writing down, somewhere, the date of your decision to move on. My experience is that just abandoning treatment is not enough because, at the back of the mind, a tiny hope lives on well into the forties that a miracle baby may come along naturally and this tiny hope blocks the mourning and moving-on processes.” She recommends perhaps having a ceremony or other event that marks the decision.
From Day #1, I knew this was my decision. I knew I could seek more treatments or keep trying to adopt, but I decided not to. Why? Because I knew it wasn’t the Lord’s will. He wanted me to make the decision to move on. He knew I was finally ready for it. Never before had the Lord’s will been so clearly laid out to me. That, and for so many other emotional, spiritual, and physical reasons, we decided to no longer pursue parenthood. Immediately upon making the decision, I felt liberated. It was as if a burden had been taken off my shoulders, similar to the backpack full of bricks analogy used when discussing repentance. Here was a trial I had faced for so many years, and now it was gone. I could finally just accept my life rather than constantly hoping for something different.
That trial ended, but another one immediately began. I had no idea it would be so difficult to come to terms with my decision. Even though I’ve felt greater peace about my path than ever before, I’ve also spent the last several months dealing with depression, anxiety, and loneliness more than I’d ever experienced before. The Lord, however, has given me the strength and guidance to know how to move on. He’s helped me readjust my life, reassess my priorities, and seek growth in the ways I need it most. To outsiders, my life may not seem different. I’m still in school, still teaching, still married, and still childless. What’s the difference? Well, I am different. My goals and priorities are different. My approach to happiness is different. My understanding of myself is different. My level of comfort around others is different. I could handle being around kids and parents when I thought that any day I’d be like one of them. Now, I’m accepting my life. Finally, I am learning to be who I really am rather than seeking to be part of an unattainable dream. So, yes, to some my life doesn’t seem like it’s changed, but to me, I have truly started a new life and become a new person. Other than deciding to marry my husband, this is the best decision I feel I’ve ever made. And the future only looks brighter.
Are you struggling to know if you should “make the decision”? Are you at a crossroads in your attempts to have children? Have you made the decision to be childless but find it difficult to explain it to others? Know that you’re not alone. Make sure this decision truly is right for you. Once you’ve done that, move forward with all your might. For more information about making the decision to accept childless living rather than remain stuck in infertility, read Sweet Grapes by Jean and Michael Carter.
Tags: coping, guests, happiness, Jesus Christ, perspective